How should I go about choosing a good hospital for cancer care?

Most doctors who treat cancer work with hospitals that are good at cancer care. Ask other doctors and nurses for their opinions on hospitals in your area. Cancer experience is also important for hospitals. For example, larger hospitals may have more experience with different kinds of cancers and offer more services for cancer patients. If you live in a small town, you may need to travel to a larger city to find a center with enough cancer experience.
This might be especially important if you have a rare type of cancer or if you have something unusual occur along with your diagnosis. Larger institutions will have more experience in treating less common cancers. This experience advantage may be the key to getting the best possible treatment and be well worth any extra travel or inconvenience to you in the short-term. 
You may also go online to find out if nearby hospitals meet certain quality standards and are accredited by The Joint Commission at Keep in mind, though, that accreditation does not necessarily mean the hospital has expertise in cancer care. Online, The Joint Commission's Quality Check allows you to check on the performance of your local health care facility. From their home page, select "Quality Check," then search for your health care organization by its name, zip code, or state. If you don't have Internet access, ask your local public library staff if they can help you, or call the Quality Check help line at 630-792-5800. 
Joane Goodroe

The American Cancer Society provides the following information:

Choosing a Doctor and a Hospital - Once you have learned you have cancer, the next step is to make sure you have the best possible medical care and treatment. Choosing your doctor and treatment center is one of the most important decisions you will make. There are many excellent cancer care centers throughout the United States, but how do you know where to look?

Determining cancer care quality - When you first learn about a cancer diagnosis, there are many things to think about. Most people with cancer are not experts on cancer treatment. You probably don't feel like you have the time, energy, or resources to figure out how to get "quality cancer care." You might need some help.

The doctor who found your cancer is the first person you should ask: "If you found out that you or someone you loved had this cancer, which doctor would you see for treatment?" In many cases, the doctor will go ahead and suggest another doctor even if you don't ask.

If your doctor isn't sure of your diagnosis, but thinks there's a chance you might have cancer, you can ask: "If you were in my place, which doctor would you see first?" Ask for at least 2 or 3 names, and find out what these doctors' specialties are. Find out if they practice at cancer treatment centers. Then later you can find out more about the treatment centers and the doctors.

To help you with this, the organizations listed here work with cancer treatment centers and can point you to centers that offer only the best in cancer care.

The Commission on Cancer (CoC), a program of the American College of Surgeons, approves hospitals or facilities that have committed to provide the best in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Its list of approved facilities includes more than 1,400 cancer centers in the United States.

A good way to judge the quality of cancer care at a treatment facility is to find out if it has been approved by the CoC. If it has, you know it meets certain standards and offers a range of cancer care services. No matter its size or location, its ability to deliver quality cancer care is constantly being looked at by the CoC.

To find a CoC-approved center near you, see the "Additional resources" section for contact information on the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.